Sturgeon blames austerity for Brexit vote, repeats threats of 2nd Scottish independence referendum

SNP Leader and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. © Russell Cheyne
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has once again threatened Westminster with a new independence referendum, demanding “Scotland’s voice is heard and our wishes respected.”

The Scottish National Party (SNP) leader warned Britain is heading towards a “hard rather than a soft Brexit,” which would leave Scotland excluded from the single market and with restrictions on its citizens’ freedom of movement.

In Scotland it “may well be that the option that offers us the greatest certainty, stability and the maximum control over our own destiny is that of independence,” she said in an address to charities, public sector groups and business leaders.

While the Leave campaign secured the majority vote across Britain last month, results of the referendum over European Union membership in Scotland were predominantly in favor of staying in (62 percent). A second ‘indy ref,’ according to Sturgeon, would therefore be “highly likely.”

“I don’t underestimate the challenge of finding such a solution,” she said. “Even if we can agree a position at UK level, we would face the task of persuading the EU to agree it. The barriers are substantial.

“Much of the blame for what happened on June 23 lies with the UK government’s ideological obsession with austerity, with its decision to make ordinary people pay the price of a financial crash they didn’t cause and with its cynical collusion in the myth that cuts and public service pressures are the fault of migrants, rather than a direct result of deliberate economic policy.”

Prime Minister Theresa May’s catchphrase “Brexit means Brexit” wasn’t enough for Sturgeon, who believed it was “just a soundbite that masks a lack of any clear sense of direction.”

She therefore challenged May’s government to “find ways to demonstrate that Scotland’s voice can be heard, our wishes accommodated and our interests protected within the UK.”

Sturgeon’s Tory opponent Murdo Fraser MSP replied to her speech, saying: “Scotland does not want to go through the division and upheaval of another independence vote. Instead, the Scottish government should be working hard to make the best of this, not shoehorning its narrow agenda into almost anything it can.”

Commenting on Sturgeon’s five key interests to protect in Scotland upon Brexit – democracy, economy, social protections, international solidarity and influence in the single market – Fraser added: “[Sturgeon] is setting these up to fail to provide another flimsy excuse for a referendum re-run.

“It’s pretty clear the SNP is going to amble through this process and reach the conclusion it always wanted.”